Suggested Audio Candy:
Michael Perilstein The Deadly Spawn
Right that’s your Spring sorted. You’ve already had thirteen little treasures from Keeper’s troves and here are thirteen more. What better way to open up than with Douglas McKeown’s rambunctious 1983 schlock-a-thon The Deadly Spawn aka Return of The Aliens. There are few movies which stir up quite the level of rabid devotion than this absolute must-see. The make-up effects have held up astonishingly well and the acting is just as ludicrous now as it ever was so there’s nothing stopping you dipping in for some shameless gratification.
Somehow McKeown managed the unthinkable by making a film which, on one hand, was plain half-witted and, on the other, reasonably terrifying. If you ever had a monster in your closet as a child then this monstrosity would have been the last sight you wanted trundling out of your wardrobe for a midnight binge. Forget Audrey II, those blabbering gums had nothing on The Deadly Spawn. I implore all of you to trust your B-movie radars and give this a revisit. It has matured like the spawn of its title and has a thousand jutting gnashers with your name on them.
While you’re at it, grab yourself a copy of Juan Piquer Simón’s Pieces without procrastination. Pieces was a Spanish Giallo of sorts, this reflected in the killer’s wardrobe which consists of leather gloves, fedora hat and long raincoat, all black. Wholly harebrained, this actually adds to the charm of one of the more mean-spirited slashers doing the rounds in the early eighties and the gory dispatches more than made up for any lack of coherence. Simón took more liberties than was customary with his chainsaw, and it is a wonder Pieces never officially made the video nasty list as the appendages fly with wild abandon.
It was not unknown for slasher movies to become a little lost in the crowd around this time and Andrew Davis’ The Final Terror is one such plucky unfortunate. Despite boasting a young cast which included Rachel Ward, Daryl Hannah, Adrien Zmed and Joe Pantoliano, it vanished without trace which is all the more disquieting considering the fact that it was certainly one of the more resourceful slashers from its epoch. Never one of the higher body counts and not too concerned with Grue, it paid the price by dropping into a blackened void…where it landed directly next to Jack Sholder’s masterful Alone in The Dark.
Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence, Martin Landau…is that just a match made in heaven or what? Reading like an unhinged Dream Team, they took exception to their psychiatrist and torment the living hell out of him and his brood. This hardly caused the faintest ripple and consequently fell through the cracks, which saddens Keeper as it is effortlessly one of the most intelligent slashers and worthy of the kind of cult status that it still hasn’t attained over thirty years on. Before you go clicking ‘add to basket’ just make sure the name Uwe Boll isn’t anywhere to be seen.
Roger Christian’s The Sender was another of 1982’s banished beauties, more psychological thriller than all out horror and in no way B-movie, it focused on a telepathic man able to transmit his visions into the minds of those around him. It dealt with telepathy and dream transference with an almost clinical approach and had a hypnogogic feel to it, bolstered by decent production values and tight script. Not only was The Sender one of 1982’s best horror films but it was one of the finest films of that year…period!
I’ve long been a hopeless devotee of Oliver Stone. Platoon, The Doors, Wall Street and Talk Radio would all rank in my all-time 100 motion pictures but the director actually cut his teeth in horror. He refuses to acknowledge his first feature Seizure, which I find most curious seeing as it was an affecting little number about a man receiving visitations from three less than hospitable dream demons from his own novel, The Dwarf, The Executioner and The Queen of Evil. Seven years later Stone went on to direct The Hand, with Michael Caine playing a comic-book artist who loses his right hand in a road accident. The appendage developed a rather cantankerous mind of its own, setting out to eradicate anyone who had wronged by him. Both are worth seeking out, despite what Oliver may think.
A smattering of monster movie madness now as Keeper remembers Philippe Mora’s The Beast Within, William Sachs’ The Incredible Melting Man and Douglas Cheek’s C.H.U.D. All three were not without their foibles but they all represented their epoch with unbounded verve. To use its full title, Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller barely had to turn up and flip that drain cover to have us at “hello”. They all got by on just sufficient B-movie charm and all deserve a dusting off in Keeper’s opinion.
James W Roberson’s Superstition aka The Witch was a film truly evocative of its era. Here was a movie where bad things happened to every last hapless inhabitant. That’s right, it performed the Amityville II clean sweep and even children were extinguished by the 300 year-old heretic of the title. Watching a teenage girl having her barnet nailed to the floor with an oversized wooden bolt by long spindly fingers left its stain as did the ethereal ultramarine glow around her as she hovered atop a stairwell. New jockeys please.
Another flick which gave Keeper a dose of ‘the willies’ was Joe Giannone’s Madman, a superior backwoods slasher with a similarly oppressive silhouetted aggressor. It told the legendary fable of Madman Marz, a murderous bastard who hung by his neck for his atrocities. Enter a bus-load of randy counselors and add an axe, car hood and length of rope and you have yourself easily one of the most atmospheric slasher movies of the eighties.
Renny Harlin’s Prison was a real moody citadel. A good old vengeful spirit movie with a blackened heart, its unapproachable Djin used barbed wire, rubber tubing, mounted guns, whatever it could get its grimy paws on to trim down the occupants. Appearing at the tail-end of the eighties, Harlin’s film was well enough received by critics but cast aside at the box-office and has since languished in obscurity. Keeper cannot have such blasphemy, thus I implore y’all to sniff it out and do your time.
The Summer Collection
The Deadly Spawn aka Return of The Aliens
The Final Terror
Alone in The Dark
The Beast Within
The Incredible Melting Man
Superstition aka The Witch
Plan a whole year of sin,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Gallery of Terror
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